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Korea's World Cup Adversaries: Portugal

The 2022 FIFA World Cup continues to shock and surprise many fans from across the world. It is now time for the Korean Republic to look to add to that list as they are set to take on Portugal in the third and final Group H match.

It has been a a bitter sweet time for Korea in this World Cup. What started in a positive stalemate against Uruguay was then followed up by a painful 3-2 loss to Ghana in the last game. It is do or die for Korea in their final group stage game. A win is a must and other results must also go their way. Michael Redmond looks at what is in store for Korea in this one.

Match Details

Match: Korea Republic Vs Portugal - Group Stage, Group H
Date: Friday, 2nd December 2022
Time: 00:00 KST (Saturday 3rd December) 18:00 AST 15:00 UTC
Venue: Education City Stadium, Education City, Ar-Rayyan, Qatar

Portugal, the Sleeping Giants

Portugal has been known to be a force in world football for many years. They have had many greats such as Eusébio, Luís Figo, Pepe, and Cristiano Ronaldo to just name a few. However, the FIFA World Cup is a tournament where they just seem to come up short in, year after year.

Portugal has played in seven world cups, with the Qatar world cup being their eighth inclusion. However, it is a tournament where their best performance has only been 3rd place and that was back in 1966.

Portugal has had success elsewhere, with their most noticeable being the 2016 European Championship win. Portugal is a team that has always hosted several large talents but just could not get the job done.

Their last trip to the FIFA World Cup was back in 2018 when they finished second in their group, featuring Spain, Iran, and Morocco. Many fans will remember their electric 3-3 draw in their opening game of that tournament.

With finishing second, they faced off with Uruguay. The game ended 2-1 for the South American side and Portugal slipped out of the tournament. With that in mind, Portugal was looking for revenge against Uruguay and revenge they got, with a brace form Bruno Fernandes clinching them a 2-0 win. 

Bruno Fernandes celebrates with former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
The result puts Portual into the round of 16 regardless of any result against Korea. Further more, a Ghana win against Uruguay with a swing of three goals and a Portugal loss would have to be in order for the Black Stars to overtake them in 1st place.

How Did They Get There?

Portugal had to qualify for the FIFA World Cup the hard way as they only managed to finish second in their group. They ended up three points behind Serbia. Due to this, Portugal had to advance to the playoffs for their entry.

Portugal was the best of the rest in this aspect and finished 1st in the table of 2nd placed teams. This meant that Portugal was a seeded team in the draw.

Portugal was placed in Path C which included Turkey, North Macedonia, and reigning European Champions Italy. The draw had Portugal Vs Turkey and Italy Vs North Macedonia. All roads led to Portugal Vs Italy for the spot in the competition.

However, that was not to be. Portugal lived up to their side of the deal, beating Turkey 3-1 in the semi-finals, however, North Macedonia shocked the world and beat Italy in their semi-final. A 92nd-minute goal edged them through to a final against Portugal.

The fairytale ended for North Macedonia in the next game as they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Portugal. This gave the side entry into this competition.


Head to Head in the FIFA World Cup

In what will come as a surprise to many, this will be only the second time that Korea and Portugal have met. The first time they met was back in the 2002 FIFA World Cup which was hosted in Japan and Korea.

That game ended in victory for Korea, a memorable Park Ji-sung goal in the 70th minute secured them qualification out of Group D as winners. The group hosted the United States as well as Poland. 

Portugal are still undefeated in group H of the FIFA World Cup.
The end broke Portuguese hearts as they only finished third with the United States taking the runners-up place and Poland finishing 4th.

That was the tournament which saw the Korean Republic end in 4th place as they made it all the way to the semi-finals and were beaten 1-0 by Germany. They went on to lose their third-place play-off against Turkey 3-2.

Noticeable Players

The Portugal squad hosts an array of noticeable and highly talented members. First and foremost, all eyes will be on the captain and all-time leading goal scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo. At the age of 37, this is more than likely going to be the player's last chance of lifting the trophy.

However, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows for the forward player as of late. A well-documented interview a few weeks ago has more or less cut his ties with Manchester United. With that in mind and the fact that Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes are also Manchester United players in the Portugal squad, how will that affect team morale?

Other noticeable players include Pepe from Porto. The defender is known worldwide for his time at Real Madrid and especially his temper. A Manchester City trio of Bernardo Silva, João Cancelo, and Rúben Dias have also been called up. Meaning that six of the twenty-six players on the plane to Qatar have come out of Manchester.

It is also important to note three Wolverhampton Wonders players have been called up. These are Matheus Nunes, Rúben Neves, and José Sá. It is important to note these players as they play alongside Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan.


Final Thoughts

There is still a chance for Korea to qualify. However, those chances are slim. They need to beat Portugal to have any chance to go to the round of 16. There, they will hope for either a Uruguay win, as long as Korea beat Portugal with more goals than Uruguay beating Ghana. 

A draw against Ghana and Uruguay would also be okay as long as Korea can win by at least a two goal deficit against Portugal. The odds are against Korea, however stranger things have happened in the final games of the group stages in the FIFA World Cup.

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